Ancient shipwreck attracts attention of local, int’l archeologists

An ancient shipwreck with antique items discovered by fishermen on September 7 in waters off Vung Tau in Chau Thuan Bien Town in Binh Son District in the central province of Quang Ngai is attracting the attention of both local and international archeologists.

Some antique items found in the shipwreck (Photo: Tuoi Tre)

Nguyen Dinh Chien, deputy director of the National History Museum, said archeologists in the country have not had an opportunity to survey and conduct a research on the shipwreck so far because it was in shallow waters and had been embedded there for a long period of time.

The shipwreck discovery brings new hope to archeologists for researching an ancient body of a ship, which reveals so much about the period it was built in. The ship’s frame as well as the antiques recovered from it will be displayed in the museum in future.

On September 15, the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Quang Ngai Province said that archeological experts had checked the antique items recovered from the shipwreck that had been sent by police authorities, who believe that the cause of the shipwreck could have been a fire or an explosion.

The antiques from the wreck date back to the 14th century and are believed to be from the Yuan Dynasty in China, and not from the 15th century as earlier assessed.

Concerned agencies have seized 12 antique pottery bowls and four large enamel bowls – two in grey and the others in sapphire blue – which divers had recovered in undersea operations.  Some of the bowls are intact, with one piece showing a beautiful design with two fishes and lotus flowers.

Chien said that archeologists are paying attention to details on the porcelain items and in particular the coins found because these identify the period that the ship was built and the past history connected to it.

The material used for the porcelain and the style of the design on the antique items prove they were made at the end of the Yuan Dynasty and are the most ancient items discovered in the country so far.

Specifically, among the recovered items are 11 conjoined wash basins which experts explained are the consequence of ceramic melting in high heat. The conjoined items once again support experts’ theory that fire and explosion could have been the cause of the shipwreck.

Moreover, expert believe that the deeply buried items in the sand at the ocean bed show the possibility that the entire sunken ship must still be intact below the water and in good condition. If the vessel were to be excavated and raised from the water, archeologists would have an opportunity to conduct a thorough research on the materials used to make the ship, as well as reveal the ship making techniques of ancient people and other historical data.

Currently, police authorities in Quang Ngai Province are coordinating with border guards and the local police of Binh Son District to prevent residents from looting and destroying these valuable artifacts from the sunken ship.

By TTX - Translated by Uyen Phuong

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